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Rage Race Report: Team Kong Captures 3rd at 2003 CWR


1. Team Kong (L-R): Rage, T-Bone, K.C. Taylor, Coop, John Helmick

So it all began with one simple proposal from Coop: “How about this, Rage: I’ll captain the team if you get us some runners.”

And so the deal was struck for our entry in the 2003 Civil War Relay…a 50 miler starting at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon and finishing at Linn Benton Community College on the south end of Albany. The theme of this relay refers to the annual football match up between the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State University Beavers …fondly referred to in these parts as “The Civil War.”

2. An anxious Captain Coop paces as Helmick and Rage tally it all up

I definitely got the better end of the deal than Coop, as the team captain typically deals with most of the logistics. While I never mind doing it for the great people I get to run with, I appreciated Coop’s offer. A couple of Sunday runs later and we had a full boat: Rage, Coop, T-Bone, K.C. Taylor and John Helmick.

Based on my wild guesses at each of our 5k times, Team Kong found themselves starting with “The Big Dogs” in the last starting wave of runners. I was pumped until a volunteer overheard me talkin’ smackto another team that would be trying to hang with Team Kong while shooting the curl on Wave Big Dog. I assumed they too would be heaping on yet another heavy dose of envy I’d been getting all morning regarding my monogrammed starting robe with “Rage” embroidered on the back.

“Nice robe buddy, but the only reason we started you guys in Wave Big Dog was we had some of our staff who wanted to sleep in and still get to see you guys trying to get the keys out of your rig again this year…” a not-so-discrete reference to our mental indiscretion from last year’s CWR. My beaming smile slowly dissipated and I slunk back to our rig.

3. Do we look fast, lost or what?

And what a rig it was. Coop scored us a bonafide crummy. A six-pack, four-door diesel pickup, complete with manual transmission from which to deploy our runners.

Captain Coop took the stick first, followed by T-Bone, John, K.C. and Rage. With each leg roughly two miles, you’d think we could prepare our runners with some useful information, right? Having done this race so many times we would have figured that out by now. Negative.

4. The fastest tree planting crew you will ever see...

The only leg I DIDN’T want to run was Leg 4. I hadn’t run any other leg on about a half dozen CWRs and I was looking for something new…especially after hosing my back shortly after this race last year. I’ll bet “Lumbar Leg #14” might have had something to do with it. I told K.C. I’d recommend putting him on #14 to Captain Coop ONLY if he promised me to take the downhill responsibly…unlike my freewheeling, chaotic turnover from last year. He agreed. The third and fourth positions are where I suggested putting our strongest runners, believing they could chew up more asphalt on those two more hilly legs than I could possibly fritter away batting clean up on the flatter and shorter fifth position should we find ourselves in a dog fight.

5. Coop ponders how to improve runner deployment from helm of the crummy

6. John Helmick hammers Leg 13

T-Bone took the stick on Leg #2 after Coop dropped everyone in Wave Big Dog. We just stared at him with our mouths hanging open. Not even a “nice leg, Coop.” Just a couple of classic Friday/Gannon-like all-business head nods and climbed back into the crummy. (Note: Not to take anything from Coop’s effort, but Wave Big Dog was a bit thin due to a couple of teams who caught the eye of the race director by not waiting their turn. Lucky for them, they weren’t DQ’ed. We caught them at about Leg #6 sitting out a 15 minute penalty. At least it wasn’t raining).

7. Coop plays it cool while Rage and T-Bone lose it for Manciata's camera

8. K.C. Taylor blisters Leg #24 and sends Rage to The House 9. Wendy Simmons stays focused while Rage loses the sportmanship award for Team Kong

T-Bone refused to give up any of Coop’s hard work and gave the stick to John…who set the tone early on who the boss of Team Kong would be all day long, darn near running sub-11:00 on his opening leg before handing off to K.C. John and K.C. were our 3-4 punch and Captain Coop knew they’d be passing teams all day long. K.C. did not disappoint and I knew I was going to have to step up my effort for what my team mates had just opened with.

And so it went…all day long…and thanks to the volunteers, including our own Manciata, the race was a huge success…right down to the hot showers and last slice of pizza, which once again, was still hot and plentiful for the entire field. Jack Spaulding, the race director, took care of every detail as he always does. Without Jack, the racing in Eugene wouldn’t be the same. When Jack is involved, it’s going to be a very well run event for runners and walkers of all abilities. Thanks, Jack! You made our day!

Team Kong finished in 5 hours 16 minutes and some change, good for third place overall and as the only masters division team in the field this year. OSU did better than they did on the football field, winning the race.

10. Even Rage can't lose the lead that Helmick, T-Bone, Taylor and Coop have given him

And what about the football game, you might ask? Ducks 34, Beavers 21.

And that’s The Truth.

11. 4 humans and 1 horse.

12. K.C. takes care of business on Leg #4 13. Manciata runs one tight exchange zone

14. T-Bone, Coop and Rage 15. Coop hands off to T-Bone after dropping everyone else in Wave Big Dog.

16. The start. Coop is like a caged lion. Bone could care less. 17. Team 32 "Silver Streaks" runner smiles for the camera

Rage Race Report: 2002 Civil War Relay

Photos courtesy of Todd Bosworth

This was Coop's gig. All the way, baby. Running a race with his son for the first time convinced even the reclusive Manciata to join the band, especially when I told him Boz (e.g Todd Bosworth) would also be carrying the stick on this 5 member team, 50 mile relay from Autzen Stadium in Eugene to Linn Benton Community College.

The weather usually is terrible for this event, but today it was pretty darn good for November in Oregon.

The day had a rather ominous beginning, as a very unforgiving self-locking mechanism on our rental van apparently had some serious issues with Team "Leveraged Synergies" (sorry about the name, Coop) desire to participate in this event. A few phone calls later to triple A, along with some negotiating with the race director to delay our team's scheduled start time (not to mention administering some serious counseling to a distraught Coop) and a tow truck driver getting the keys back into our hands, we were finally off! We got into the last wave to depart with five minutes to spare!

Manciata led off with a spirited leg and handed off to Coop. Despite my weak attempts at defending his sorry ass for the locking the key in the van thing, he was basically defenseless as Boz laid down the first salvo of many more to come: "You can pick it up any time. This ain't the #$&!!! Portland Marathon, you know."

Next, Coop handed off to his son, Jasper. It doesn't get any better than that, in my book. As Henry Longhurst would say: "There's nothing else we can all do but watch." Dad and son slapped hands and I peeled off my sweats. I took Leg 4-the only leg I have ever run on my previous three CWRs. I knew it well, and darn near remembered every one of my splits.

I got to Egge Sand and Gravel with a decent opening leg and handed off to our anchor, Mr. Bosworth, who can bat cleanup on my team ANY TIME, baby. I love watching this guy run. Good turnover, very efficient and fast. He's very tough. Loves to throw a hard pace at you early just to hear you suck air and see how bad you want it. When he shows up at races, I can almost hear the collective groan from those (especially me) who had ideas on some cushy age group hardware, you understand what I'm sayin'? You know what I'm talkin' about?

I took the stick again at leg 9, a good speed benchmark for how far my speed had deteriorated over the years. I remembered running this leg at sub-11:00 one year with a great tailwind. Not today, and I don't think the wind had anything to do with it. There's a big difference between 42 and 46 years old. I was way off, but Bruce took my mind off my aging process making sure I didn't get lost. Boz made up for my pathetic effort on the next leg.

Now, we started getting into the hills. Bruce, Coop and Jasper kept us going, with Jasper getting a pretty good taste of what it's like when you get some hills thrown at you when you're tired. He seemed to be pacing himself well, and I was impressed with how he was handling his first relay.

Bruce was definitely back. Through three legs, he showed no signs of letting up....just rock solid running.

I redeemed myself with a solid third leg (Leg 14), pretty steep on the first mile and severe downhill on the second mile. I ran it in 12:18 and couldn't remember ever being under 12:25 on that leg. Must have moved the exchange point, but whose counting anyway, right?

Things started to get tough when we got out of the hills and onto the flats: Wind. Oh good. I'd rather do hills any day than grind it out on a long straight stretch, head down and the only thing in the distance is a couple of trees that never seem to get any closer. We all were starting to succumb to the leg 4 blues, but the amazing Boz and Bruce continued to hold pace.

Finally, Coop was the first one to smell the barn, methodically taking care of his 2.3 mile last leg and handing off to Jasper, who found out what the fifth leg of the Civil War Relay is like.

I managed a 12:02 on my last leg and we all hurried down to the track at Linn Benton Community College to greet Boz at the finish. My suggestion to Bruce that we stop at an Elmer's restaurant on the way home and debrief on how each of us could have done better was met with an icy stare. I decided instead to send him some of my notes, which included how we might deploy runners more efficiently using smoke jumper techniques.

We finished well off one overly optimistic team captain's predicted finish, but managed a top 10 finish at 5 hours, 35 minutes. Not bad for four old guys and a rookie.

And that's The Truth.

Race Report: Civil War Relay 2000
Civil War Relay Runners, 2000
Civil War Relay 2000 runners hit the wet, leaf-strewn pavement.


The Civil War Relay sounds like something that should be happening in the Southeastern U.S. Some kind of blue and gray costume thing, right? Close, but it's more of an orange, black, green and yellow kind of a thing. It's a fifty mile relay. Five person teams with each runner doing five two-mile legs starting at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon and ending at the Linn Benton Community College, located near Corvallis.

The colors you might ask? This particular relay is about the biggest football game in the state of Oregon: Oregon State versus Oregon. This year, it was really a big deal with Oregon (Ducks) ranked 5th and Oregon State (Beavers) ranked 8th, respectively. It was the 104th match-up between these two teams. The Beavs won 23-13, knocking the Ducks out of what would have been their second Rose Bowl appearance in 42 years. The win put the Beavs in the Fiesta Bowl for a BCS game. Despite the loss, the Ducks were headed for the Holiday Bowl.

Now, Oregon State is an agriculture and engineering school and Oregon is a liberal arts school. How liberal you might ask? In a recent survey, Oregon was also ranked the #1 most politically active campus in the U.S. To give some overall perspective of what that means, the University of California at Berkeley, the lighting rod of campus unrest during the Viet Nam War era, was ranked 5th. Looks like the Bears are a bit too far right of center for the UO these days.

If the rap on the Ducks of their supposed liberal community (…with a pro-business city council and mayor?) is true, I was waiting to see all of the teams with tie dye shirts and leather running shoes. Where were they? Maybe they were laying low after a stinging loss. On the other hand, a U.S. Navy team pounded their chests for all 50 miles, doing push ups and marching three abreast as they proudly carried a huge Beaver flag the whole way. Word has it that, for national security purposes, a strict internal policy is in effect at the U.S. Navy, and all other branches of the military, which prohibits any association with Eugene (which probably explains no Duck Navy team). The course was buzzing with speculation that special visas had to be granted for their runners for the first four legs, which took place within the Eugene city limits, along with some lengthy post-race counseling.

As if to further underscore their football victory, the Beavs even fielded a team from their track and cross country programs, winning by about a third of an hour. While it was not an official PAC-10 event for Team Killerwatts (Tommy Williams, Bill Welch, Mel Damewood, Mike Logan and Bert Dunn) either, we still came in sixth overall out of 54 teams, while winning our Division.

The conditions were very cold (25 degrees at the start). Nevertheless, it beat the heck out of wind and rain, which is the usual late November weather. We would all need to be civil to one another, as we were pretty evenly split between Duck and Beaver fans in our van. The Ducks would have to suppress the urge to tune their Volvo's…er…van's radio to the local affiliate's broadcast of National Public Radio all the way to Linn Benton CC, while the Beavs would need to make sure they did not crunch too loudly from their bags of pork rinds.

While the circumstances of mixing partisan sports fans in a tightly enclosed space for an entire day might set the stage for a dysfunctional experience, it's all business when Team Killerwatts tees it up. Tommy, nursing a sore calf before the race, re-tweaked it right out of the shoot on the first leg. Two mile legs in and out of a van every forty five minutes in 25 degree weather was just about the worst thing for it, too. He waved us off all day long as we offered to double up. He ran tough. Bill, Mel, Bert and I followed his lead and averaged 6:24's as a team. Not bad for a bunch of masters all running from a serious mid life crisis.

In the end, at Linn Benton Community College, all of the partisan sports bickering was set aside and Beavers and Ducks alike celebrated their accomplishments over some hot pizza.

Go Beavs and Go Ducks!

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Date and time page last updated: 03/14/2013 4:42 PM